PENTICTON - The South Okanagan’s new jail, located just north of Oliver, will begin receiving inmates in January 2017.
That’s the word from Okanagan Correctional Centre Warden Steve DiCastri, who met with Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen board members today, April 28.
Addressing questions from board members, DiCastri says most of the concerns from Oliver and area residents centre around what happens to inmates upon their release.
“We’re not just going to leave them at the bus depot in front of Lordco, that was one of their worries," DiCastri says. "They are free people at that time, but we are going to get them to the communities they were charged in."
Consultations have been ongoing with the RCMP over current police staffing levels. The RCMP have made a request for two more positions in Oliver but have yet to hear from the province.
DiCastri says most of the jail’s 240 full time, 30 part time and 60 contracted services jobs have been filled by valley residents, with a few coming from Alberta. The workers are bringing families and purchasing homes all over the South Okanagan.
Fifty-five per cent of the people incarcerated at the new facility are expected to be remand inmates, accused individuals waiting to go to trial. About 45 per cent will be serving a sentence. DiCastri says most of the inmates will be from the Okanagan who are currently at the Kamloops Regional Correctional Centre.
The estimated stay for remand inmates is expected to be 34 days and 60 days for sentenced inmates. DiCastri says longer term inmates won’t be incarcerated in the Okanagan facility.
Training programs will be available to inmates at the prison, with core programs such as substance abuse and violence prevention along with opportunities for inmates to get more schooling. There will also be wood and metal shops and a greenhouse set up for inmates to grow some of their own food.
“We don’t want to compete with local farms, so anything left over will go to the food bank,” DiCastri says.
There will also be opportunities for inmates to perform community work. DiCastri says two outdoor groups consisting of low custody inmates serving sentences for such things as impaired driving charges. DiCastri says the prison will work closely with local communities to ensure the work being done doesn’t infringe on someone else’s labour or duty.
“We want to help out and sustain where we can,” he says.
Forums and public tours are slated to begin in October 2016 followed by the incremental arrival of inmates in January 2017.
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